CURMUDGUCATION: DeVos: No Real Role for Feds

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: DeVos: No Real Role for Feds

DeVos: No Real Role for Feds

At Axios (the new “media company” from two former Politico honchos), Johnathan Swan (formerly of The Hill) has a quick moment with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. She uses the opportunity for a bit of a do-over on her confirmation hearing, but it’s her thoughts on the federal role in education that are most striking.

Among the things that “Betsy DeVos wishes she had said at her confirmation hearing

* She would have come up with a better illustration than a grizzly bear. “It was a valid illustration<‘ she says. But it probably “wasn’t the best illustration I could have given.”

* Everybody should have to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Totally. She has “so much compassion for families that have to avail themselves of that law.”

* She’s apparently okay with her none-answers on equal accountability for all schools that receive federal funding, because that’s a concept “with which she’ll never agree.”

Some other nuggets from the interview include her surprise at getting the call (actually an e-mail from someone with whom she’s “worked for a number of years.”– my money is still on Mike Pence). Trump got her excited about the job. She’ll consider the department successful if they can get ESSA successfully implemented. She looks to “slim down the department.”

What changes does she expect in her tenure? No surprise here– more charter schools, more private schools, more virtual schools, more schools of “any kind that haven’t been invented yet.” Left unsaid but clearly implied– fewer public schools.

The big question comes in big bold letters:

In her ideal world, the federal government has any a role in education?

The answer gets even bigger bolder print, because somebody understands that it’s key:

It would be fine with me to have myself worked out of a job, but I’m not sure that — I’m not sure that there will be a champion movement in Congress to do that.

The elaboration is where it gets interesting– She sees that the feds have had a useful role at certain “important inflection points” in the past, like “when we had segregated schools and when we had a time when, you know, girls weren’t allowed to have the same kind of sports teams.”  But then the question– “are there any remaining issues like that where the federal government should intervene?”

I can’t think of any now.

So there you have it. Racial and gender bias are completely under control, totally solved, no longer need any sort of federal oversight. There are no states or districts that are trying to maintain any sort of systemic inequity. Nothing to see here. Go home.

In another interview published yesterday at Townhall, she does allow for a slightly more expansive view of federal responsibility. Sort of.

I do think there are some federal roles around ensuring children with special needs and then the anti-discrimination issues at the level they were originally intended. Those are areas in which I think there is a federal role, but I also think there is an opportunity to streamline and simplify a lot of the engagement and involvement the department has had around some of these issues, issues that have continued to mushroom and grow well beyond the core focus of those two important functions and protections.

This is, of course, in keeping with the philosophy that says we no longer need to enforce the Voting Rights Act because all racism has been removed from the management of elections. We don’t need affirmative action because that’s all fixed, too. I suppose that we can be grateful that DeVos did not suggest there’s a federal role for the department in protecting the white boys who are America’s new most-oppressed minority.

It is hard to know if she is being disingenuous or off in the billionaire’s bubble, all issues of race and gender seem fixed. Either way, this is a clear signal to states that want to pursue policies that allow them to (continue to) underfund schools for Those People will not get any interference from the feds.

Go read the whole piece. Much of it is not news– we knew DeVos was intent on replacing public school with privatized education, and that she would be happy to see the department go away on her watch. The idea that there are no pressing issues requiring federal oversight  is a new expression of an old DeVosian idea– there’s no need for any sort of accountability in education, leas of all on the federal level. One more sign that things are going to get ugly and advocates of public education, equity, and civil rights had better get activated and organized on the state level.


Grand Rapids Right Wing Think Tank President Praises Betsy DeVos after Confirmation as Secretary of Education

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

The Acton Institute President Robert Sirico said last week on a blog post, that Betsy DeVos was the best choice for Secretary of Education. betsy-devos-and-priest_1484681039527_7704948_ver1-0

The blog post does acknowledge early on that the Betsy and other members of the DeVos Family have played an intricate role in supporting the work of the Acton Institute over the years.

Betsy DeVos is a former board member of the Acton Institute. She and her family also have been loyal philanthropists for the Grand Rapids, Mich., area of which Acton faithfully belongs. That written, it must be added that Acton’s relationship with the DeVos family and Betsy specifically and personally shows the passion and intellect that she brings to bear on those issues upon which she has been focused for decades. Among those issues is school choice so direly needed for students forced to suffer the failures rampant in our public schools.


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If the Affordable Care Act is saved, it will happen next week | Eclectablog

‘If the Affordable Care Act is saved, it will happen next week’, at Eclectablog.

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CURMUDGUCATION: I Am Not Hostile To Change

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: I Am Not Hostile To Change

I Am Not Hostile To Change

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke today to a gathering of Magnet School folks, and opened up by suggesting that “some people” are “hostile” to change.

I just want to be clear. I am not hostile to change. In fact, there are some changes that I would love to see.

I would love to see a change in the rhetoric about failing schools. Instead of declaring that we will “rescue” students from failing schools and offering lifeboats for a handful of students, I’d like to change to a declaration that where we find struggling and failing schools, we will get them the support and resources that they need to become great.

I would love to see a change in how we approach the communities where those schools are located. Instead of pushing local leaders aside so that outsiders who “know what’s best” for them can swoop in and impose decisions for them instead of letting them have control of their own community.

I would love to see a change in how teachers are treated. Instead of trying to bust their unions, smother their pay, ignore their voices , and treat them as easily-replaced widgets, I would like to see teacher voices elevated, listened to, respected, and given the support and resources that would lift them up. I would like to see them treated as part of the solution instead of the source of all problems.

I would love to see a change in how we discuss race and poverty, treating them as neither destiny nor unimportant nothings.

I would love to see a change in how we treat public education. I would love to see public education treated like a sacred trust and not a business opportunity. I would love to see us pursue a promise to educate all children– not just the few that we deem worthy or profitable or best reached by a sensible business plan. Every child.

I would love to see a change in the status quo. Because at this point, the status quo is a public education system that is being smothered and dismantled by people who lack expertise in education and belief in the promise of public education. The education “establishment” has been pushed out and replaced by well-meaning amateurs, profiteers, scam artists, and people who have no desire to maintain the institution that has been the foundation of a robust and vibrant democracy. Reformsters are the status quo, and that is a status quo I would love to change, because they have had their shot, and all of their promises have proven to be at best empty and at worst toxic.

I would love to see us change from test-centered schools, data-centered schools, and revenue-centered schools to schools that are student-centered, that steer by the children at their center.

And all of that is because I welcome the change that I have always welcomed, built for, worked for– which is the change of young humans into grown, fully-realized, awesome, grown, valuable, living, breathing, completely individual and fully capable adults, the change of each child from an unsure rough draft into the version of their own best self.

No, Secretary. I am not hostile to change at all. I embrace it, welcome it, hope for it and work for it every day. There are many of us out here, and if you imagine we are hostile to change, that is one more thing about public education that you do not understand.

Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes march in Grand Rapids: We are here and we are not leaving!

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy


Yesterday, over 1,000 people marched in Grand Rapids for immigrant rights and to send a clear message to people in power, Aqui Estamos y no, nos vamos – We are here and we are not leaving!

People gathered near a store owned by Latinos on Division, just a few blocks north of 28th street. There were a few people who spoke, which energized the crowd and then the march began at about 5:20.

There were no permits obtained, people just simply went out into the street and took up the 2 south-bound lanes on Division and the middle turn lane. People march we great enthusiasm, using horns, drums and chanting all throughout the march. One chant said, Grand Rapids, escucha, estamos en la Lucha! – Grand Rapids, Listen Up, We are in the Struggle!

There were also lots of flags being carried or waved, some American flags, but mostly Mexican…

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While we’re all distracted by Trump’s antics, Michigan Republicans poised to blow a $1 BILLION hole in the state budget | Eclectablog

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The Michigan Progressive Summit returns! March 4, 2017 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan | Eclectablog

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2016-17 Fiscal Year Wayland Union Schools Casino Funding Usage

Report on Use of Casino Funding (In lieu of taxes)2016 – 2017 Fiscal Year


Wayland Union Schools is fortunate to have the commitment of the Gun Lake Casino through its compact with the State of Michigan, our local district, AAESA and local municipalities. Through the distribution of these funds, as determined by the casino revenue sharing board, the casino will allocate approximately $1,551,000 to Wayland Union Schools for the 2016-17 school year in cash in lieu of taxes.

The following is a brief description of the 2016-17 uses of these funds which were approved by the Wayland Union Schools Board of Education.

The funds were allocated to three main areas:

Instructional Support, Community Support and a Public Improvement Fund.

Instructional Support- $427,582

IPad program at High School and Middle School – As part of the 1:1 Initiative, the district purchased new iPad Airs for every student in grades 7 -12. The older iPads are now being used in the elementary classrooms. Cost of this program is $167,893 for 2016-17.

Science Materials Aide Position – This elementary position assists teachers with ordering, organizing and planning for materials needed to conduct experiments during science class time. The cost of the position including related wages and benefi ts is $20,289.

Drama department budget – Funds used by the drama department to pay for their productions. A budget to cover these costs is $8,500.

Science Olympiad, Odyssey of the Mind and Lego Engineering programming – The cost of this programming is $8,595 including wages and supplies.

School nurse – A contracted position with Community Care Givers to address issues relating to student health and to assist with students who require specialized medical attention has been created. The annual cost for this is $63,250.

Field Trips – Students at all grade levels are provided the opportunity to go on curricular related fi eld trips at no cost to the student or their family. The cost of this program is $10,144.

Bus Purchase – District was able to purchase new buses paid for over three years. $148,911.

Community Support – $428,110

Classroom supply budgets for grades pre-K through 6th grade – In past years requests went to parents asking them to send in items which were needed for their child’s classroom. Such items might include kleenex, scissors, hand sanitizer, colored pencils, glue sticks, highlighters, etc. This was implemented to reduce the fi nancial burden on families, standardize supplies for all students and allow teachers more time for instruction. The cost of this is $43,850.

Two-way bussing for athletics – This allows for athletes to have access to transportation both to and from away events. Cost of this is $12,716.

Increased Community Education offerings – Staff was added to allow for additional offerings through the district’s community education program and provides some classes at reduced costs to the community. Cost for this is $26,980.

Eliminate pay-to-participate fees – Students no longer have to pay to be involved in district athletic teams. The cost for this is $60,330.

Elimination of student entry fees to school events – The district no longer charges students entry to school related events including athletics, performing arts, plays and musicals. The cost for this is $30,315.

Reduced fees for attending pre-school programs – The district reduced fees by approximately 30% for families participating in the district’s preschool programs. The cost of this is $55,560.

Reduce Door to Door Fundraising – The district no longer allows doorto-door fundraising activities by student groups, teams or organizations. The district allocated funds to fund the programs and activities that were funded with fundraised dollars. The total cost of is $39,290.

Athletics –Purchase of new uniforms and payment of tournament entry fees. Total cost is $22,500.

Pool\Fitness Center Management – The cost of providing management and staffi ng for the district’s pool and fitness center during district and community use including lifeguards. Total cost is $63,000.

Security/Public Safety – Wages and benefits of public safety offi cer. Total cost $68,569.

Scholarships- District to award $5,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors.

Public Improvement – $695,308

Funds from the casino in lieu of tax funding are transferred to the Public Improvement Fund. Funds are used to make needed repairs and capital improvements to the district’s facilities including buildings, ball fields, gyms, pools and other district owned properties.

During the 2016-17 school year the district has allocated $695,308 for the following projects:

  • Science & Innovation Center – (United Bank loan principal and interest payment)
  • Locker Rooms – High School Gym
  • Student lockers – High School & Steeby (Brainard Enterprises & Lyon LLC)
  • Roof maintenance program
  • Air Conditioning in cardio room at Fitness Center • Exterior doors at High School
  • Interior doors at High School
  • Pool lights
  • Pool repairs
  • Pool PAK- various vendors (Behler-Young Co.)
  • Pool PAK – various vendors (W. Soule & Co.)
  • Citizen survey (EPIC MRA)
  • Chiller- Middle School
  • New and updated lighting in Fine Arts Center
  • Aux Gym fl oor refi nishing (Floor Care Concepts)
  • Electronic sign with City of Wayland
  • Dorr septic and pavement (Oetman Excavating)
  • Baker/Pine/High School lighting controls (Control Solutions)
  • Concrete work at Baker (A-1 Asphalt Sealing & Repair)
  • Pine Street gym fl oor refi nish (Floor Care Concepts)
  • Warning track varsity baseball
  • Warning track softball fi elds (2)
  • CM services (Triangle Construction)
  • Dorr bladder tank and fi lter (Lameyer Plumbing)
  • Pine asphalt (Black Gold Transport
  • Middle School concrete lift (Van Dyke Concrete)
  • Fire extinguisher boxes
  • Track Field painting (McDonald Track Painting)
  • Volleyball sleeves – main gym (Ancore Drilling)



Oppose HR 610, a bill designed to push school privatization – Action Network

This bill would undermine funding to public schools while demanding that school vouchers be allowed for states to receive funding. It would also reduce the nutritional quality of school lunches.

Source: Oppose HR 610, a bill designed to push school privatization – Action Network


Dear Jeffrey L,

The new administration’s attack on public education has begun, and we need you to take action today to stop it.

In late January, HR 610 was introduced by Steve King of Iowa, with representatives from Maryland, Texas and Arizona signing on.

You can read a summary of the bill here. HR 610, the School Choice Act, would eliminate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was passed as a part of  Lyndon B. Johnson’sWar on Poverty.”  Federal funds would be used instead to create “block grants” to be used to “distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child.” It would also roll back nutritional standards for free lunches for poor children.

But that is not all.

On Tuesday, Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump gathered together parents and teachers to talk about their education agenda. Who was invited (and who was not) is telling.

Of the ten attendees, one was a public school teacher and one was a principal of a public school that specializes in special education. There was one public school parent who also had children in private school.  The rest of the group were homeschoolers, charter school parents or private school representatives.

During the meeting, Trump praised what he referred to as a “Nevada charter school” that he had visited.  The school is actually a religious school which regularly excludes students with disabilities

.  You can watch a video of the children pledging allegiance to the bible for Mr. Trump by clicking here

It is very clear that bills like HR 610, which would provide vouchers to private and religious schools, would be supported by both the U.S. Department of Education and the White House. In fact, it would appear that every alternative to democratically controlled public schools will be favored, while a clear bias against public schools will exist.

Send an email today to your Representatives that says, “Do not sign on to or support HR 610.” We make it easy to do. Just click here.

We need to send a clear message that we cannot afford, nor do we support, private and religious school vouchers. We do not want our public schools defunded as private schools, religious schools, charters and online for-profits are pushed.

Make no mistake. That is clearly Trump’s intention. Watch him declare his support for school choice during a speech he gave during his visit to the Christian school in Las Vegas. You can watch it here

Send an email today to your Representative that says, “Do not sign on to or support HR 610.”  Send your email by clicking here.

Grassroots Groups Fight School Privatization

As we fight to save our democratically governed public schools, it is important that we learn from each other and support each other’s efforts. The Network for Public Education began a Grassroots Network so that groups all across the nation can do just that.

Go here

to find a group in your area. If there is none, start one and then tell us about it so that we can support your efforts and connect you with other like-minded groups.

In keeping with our commitment to support such efforts, the Network for Public Education is participating in a Journey for Justice sponsored campaign, #WeChoose, that fights school privatization and supports equitable community schools.

Read more about that campaign here

NPE has also endorsed the The People’s March for Educational Justice sponsored by New York’s Alliance for Quality Education’s (AQE) on March 4. You can learn more about that march here

The Network for Public Education Welcomes Michael Matsuda to its Board of Directors

The Network for Public Education is delighted to announce that Anaheim High School District Superintendent, Mike Matsuda, has joined its Board of Directors. In February of 2016, Mike was recognized by Education Week as a Leader to Learn From, for his extraordinary work in English language learner education.
Mike, whose own parents were detained in an internment camp in Arizona during World War II, has a special sensitivity to students who are immigrants or perceived to be “outsiders.”
A fierce advocate of public schools, he has fought against the predatory practices of the EPIC online charter schools in his district, while leading a strong campaign to increase community involvement in the Anaheim Public Schools. Mike is tireless in his efforts to bring a strong, challenging curriculum that emphasizes literacy and non-cognitive skills including, compassion, service, and cultural understanding to the students of his district.
Mike believes that we must model public schools as incubators of democracy through civic engagement and inclusive decision making involving all stakeholders, especially parents.

Thank you for responding to our survey!

Over 7,400 of our over 300,000 members responded to our survey. We asked you what your foremost concerns are and this is what you told us:

Also high on your list of concerns were student support services, charter schools, and school segregation. You told us that you want more Action Alerts and to be better connected with public school advocates in your area. We will do our best to meet your expectations.

36% of you are pre-K-12 educators, and 64% either work in other professions or are retired. 37.5% of the respondents have children in school, nearly all of whom attend public schools.

Thank you again for participating and for all of your advocacy for our public schools. Our public schools are the pillar of our democracy and they must be preserved.

Thank you for all you do,

Carol Burris

Executive Director

Network for Public Education

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